We have a lot of work to do in order to ensure that our water resources system can sustain the competitiveness of the American economy and protect our national security, and WRRDA 2016 offers a critical, timely opportunity to do just that.
By Congressman Garret Graves (LA-06)—
The United States is a maritime nation. Much of our country’s success, and future successes, are dependent on our ports and waterways system. With 41 states being served by ports and waterways, and 25,000 miles of inland and intracoastal waterways, this system is integrally tied to the economic development and global competitiveness of our nation.
But this system is aging. The average age of our locks is over 60 years old, well beyond their intended design life. The result is numerous delays that impact the half a billion tons of cargo that flow on these waters every year. Our ports, through which 99 percent of overseas trade passes, struggle to maintain their navigation channels at their fully authorized depths, let alone a depth to allow for even bigger ships that are increasingly the global norm.
It is not just our navigation system that needs to be upgraded, but also our levees and dam systems, which are, on average, more than 50 years old. This vast network of levees and dams is critical to protecting millions of people in cities and towns across the nation, as well as providing essential benefits such as water supply, irrigation and hydropower.